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TechCrunch’s Top 10 investigative reports from 2019

Facebook spying on teens, Twitter accounts hijacked by gunmen, and sexual abuse imagery found on Bing and Giphy were amongst the ugly truths revealed by TechCrunch’s investigating reporting in 2019. The tech manufacture needs more protectors than ever as its size enlargens the impact of safety lacks and the abuse of power. Whether through malice, naivety, or greed, there was plenty of wrongdoing to sniff out.

Led by our security expert Zack Whittaker, TechCrunch undertook more long-form investigations this year to tackle these growing matters. Our coverage of fundraises, concoction opens, and glamorous outlets exclusively tell half the fib. As perhaps the biggest and longest running news outlet dedicated to startups( and the giants they become ), we’re responsible for stop these companies honest and pushing for a more ethical and transparent coming to technology.

If you have a tip potentially worthy of an investigation, contact TechCrunch at tips @techcrunch. com or by abusing our anonymous tip line’s way.

Image: Bryce Durbin/ TechCrunch

Here are our top 10 investigations from 2019, and their impact 😛 TAGEND Facebook pays teens to spy on their data

Josh Constine’s landmark investigation discovered that Facebook was compensating teens and adults $20 in endowment posters per month to install a VPN that ship Facebook all their feelings mobile data for market research intents. The laundry list of problems with Facebook Research included not informing 187,000 consumers the data would go to Facebook until they signed off for” Project Atlas “, not receiving suitable parental acceptance for over 4300 adolescents, and threatening action at law if a consumer speak publicly about the program. The program also mistreated Apple’s enterprise certificate program designed exclusively for distribution of employee-only apps within companies to avoid the App Store inspect process.

The fallout was enormous. Lawmakers wrote angry words to Facebook. TechCrunch soon discovered a similar market research curriculum from Google called Screenwise Meter that the company immediately shut down. Apple rewarded both Google and Facebook by shutting down all their employee-only apps for a daytime, inducing office disturbances since Facebookers couldn’t access their shuttle planned or lunch menu. Facebook tried to claim the program was above board, but eventually succumbed to the backlash and shut down Facebook Research and all paid the data collected programs for users under 18. Most importantly, such investigations guided Facebook to closed down its Onavo app, which offered a VPN but in reality sucked in tons of mobile application data to figure out which contestants to follow. Onavo helped Facebook realize it is desirable to acquire messaging challenger WhatsApp for $19 billion, and it’s now at the center of anti-trust investigations into the company. TechCrunch’s reporting faded Facebook’s exploitative marketplace surveillance, pitted tech’s beings against each other, and elevated the bar for opennes and moralities in data collection.

Facebook settles teens to install VPN that sees on them

Protecting The WannaCry Kill Switch

Zack Whittaker’s profile of the heroes who helped save the internet from the fast-spreading WannaCry ransomware discovers the precarious mood of cybersecurity. The clutch fiction documenting Marcus Hutchins’ benign drive establishing the WannaCry kill switch may have contributed to a judge’s decision to sentence him to only 1 year of supervised liberation instead of 10 times in prison for an unrelated indict of creating malware as a teenager.

The sinkhole that saved the internet

The dangers of Elon Musk’s tunnel

TechCrunch benefactor Mark Harris’ investigation discovered inadequate emergency exits and more problems with Elon Musk’s plan for his Boring Company to build a Washington D.C.-to-Baltimore tunnel. Consulting fire safety and tunnel engineering experts, Harris build a strong case for why state and local governments is required to be questionable of these new technologies disrupters cutting areas in public infrastructure.

Review of Elon Musk’s DC-to-Baltimore’ Loop’ organisation exposes safety concerns

Bing portrait research is full of child abuse

Josh Constine’s investigation disclosed how Bing’s likenes search results both established brat sexual abuse imagery, but too showed examination words to innocent users that would surface this illegal material. A tip-off resulted Constine to commission a report by anti-abuse startup AntiToxin( now L1ght ), pressuring Microsoft to commit to UK regulators that it would see significant changes to stop this from happening. Nonetheless, a follow-up investigation by the New York Times citing TechCrunch’s report discovered Bing had obliged little progress.

Microsoft Bing not only demo youth sex offense, it indicates it

Expelled despite exculpatory data

Zack Whittaker’s investigation surfaced contradictory evidence in a case of alleged evaluate tampering by Clumps student Tiffany Filler who was questionably expelled. The section gives significant doubt on the accusations, and that could help the student get a fair shot at future academic or professional endeavors.

Tufts ostracized a student for point spoofing. She claims innocence

Burned by an educational laptop

Natasha Lomas’ chronicle of troubles at educational computer hardware startup pi-top, including a design malfunction that injured a U.S. student. An internal email disclosed the student had suffered a” a very nasty finger burn” from a pi-top 3 laptop designed to be disassembled. Reliability concerns swelled and layoffs ensued. The report illustrates how startups operating in the physical world, peculiarly around confidential people like students, must make safety a top priority.

Reliability concerns raised over pi-top’s Root understand laptop

Giphy has failed to block child abuse imagery

Sarah Perez and Zack Whittaker teamed up with child protection startup L1ght to expose Giphy’s negligence in impede sexual abuse imagery. The report revealed how criminals worked the site to share illegal imagery, which was then accidentally indexed by search engines. TechCrunch’s investigation demonstrated that it’s not just public tech whales who need to be more vigilant about their content.

Despite censors, Giphy still hosts self-harm, hate lecture and brat fornication ill-treatment material

Airbnb’s weakness on anti-discrimination

Megan Rose Dickey explored a botched lawsuit of discrimination plan imposition by Airbnb when a blind and deaf traveler’s territory was nullified because they have a guide dog. Airbnb tried to merely “educate” the host who was accused of discrimination instead of levying any real punishment until Dickey’s reporting pushed it to suspend them for a month. The investigation exposes the portions Airbnb goes to in order to protect its money-generating emcees, and how policy questions could disfigure its IPO.

How Airbnb manipulates discrimination demands

Expired emails give gunmen tweet information

Zack Whittaker discovered that Islamic State propaganda was being spread through hijacked Twitter accounts. His investigation revealed that if the email address associated with a Twitter account expired, intruders could re-register it to gain access and then receive password resets moved from Twitter. The section discovered the savvy but not inevitably intelligent methods terrorist groups are exploiting large-scale tech’s insurance shortcomings, and recognized a hazardous loophole for all sites to close.

Hackers are spreading Islamic State propaganda by commandeer hibernating Twitter accounts

Porn& gambling apps slip past Apple

Josh Constine concluded dozens of indecency and real-money gambling apps had ended Apple’s principles but bypassed App Store review by abusing its endeavor certification curriculum — countless based in China. The report discovered the shaky and readily victimized requirements to receive an enterprise credential. Seven months later, Apple discovered a spike in porn and gambling app takedown seeks from China. The investigation could propagandize Apple to tighten its endeavor authorization programmes, and proved the company has plenty of its own questions to handle despite CEO Tim Cook’s frequent punches at the politics of other tech giants.

Apple fails to block porn& gambling’ Enterprise’ apps

Bonus: HQ Trivia hires burnt for trying to remove CEO

This Game Of Thrones-worthy tale was too intriguing to leave out, even if the impact was more of a cautioning to all startup execs. Josh Constine’s look inside gaming startup HQ Trivia disclosed a adventure of hire insurrection in response to its CEO’s ineptitude and inaction as the company nose-dived. Employees who planned a petition to the board to remove the CEO were fired, leading to further talent deviations and stagnation. The investigation served to remind startup directors that they are responsible to their employees, who can exert power through collective act or their exodus.

Mutiny at HQ Trivia fails to oust CEO

If you have a tip for Josh Constine, you can reach him via encrypted Signal or text at( 585) 750 -5 674, joshc at TechCrunch dot com, or through Twitter DMs

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